I was having a conversation with some students yesterday explaining that the name of the National League team currently playing in the World Series took its name from the period during which the team played in Brooklyn. Fans had to dodge the streetcars to get to the ballpark and thus became known as trolley dodgers. In 1916 however that was still a little ways in the future; the Brooklyn team that played the Red Sox in that year’s World Series was known as the Robins. Charles Ebbets was already the owner by this time. Later in the day I was speaking to someone whose daughter lives in Boston but whose family roots are in Los Angeles. We got into a discussion about how some of those great Dodger players of the 1970s and early 1980s will hopefully be in attendance over the coming week, throwing out first pitches and whatnot. Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski threw out the opening pitch in game one last night.
The last time the team that is now the Dodgers played the Red Sox in the World Series was 1916. Seasons ended earlier in those years, with the final game usually taking place around Columbus Day. In October 1916 the Battles of Verdun and the Somme were grinding to their awful conclusions. It was the final weeks of the presidential campaign and the incumbent Woodrow Wilson was running against challenger Charles Evans Hughes on the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” Fenway Park was in its fifth season in 1916, but if you look at the score book above you will see that the games in Boston were played not in Fenway but at Braves Field. I was wondering about this when I saw the score card. During the game last night the Red Sox radio announcers eventually spoke about it, noting that the games were moved to the more spacious ballpark to see more tickets. Let that be a lesson to anyone who thinks organized baseball was once only a game and not a business. I say that with no cynicism.
Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel, Fred Merkle and Tris Speaker were just some of the players who squared off in the World Series 102 years ago. Lincoln Logs were invented that year, presumably due to interest in the 16th president just a few years after the centenary of his birth and in the wake of the 50th anniversary of the American Civil War. It was the final season before America joined the Great War. While Europe burned Americans took in the World Series to forget the world’s troubles as best they could.
(image/Lincoln Eng. Co., via Wikimedia Commons)